About Us

About Chef Valerie Hanson


Growing up on a family farm, Valerie Hanson learned bygone kitchen and farm skills as they were passed from mother to daughter for generations. She continues to learn about additional heritage skills.

Valerie was one of eight children growing up near the nearby Silver Lake sand dunes in western Michigan’s Oceana County. She and her husband, John, also have eight children in their blended family. With her youngest child now in her 20s, she has continued these home arts for decades.

Often John, will be found helping.  Ask him to sing his “scullery man” ditty.

She is licensed through:

  • USDA, Michigan Department of Agriculture: Better Process Control School at Michigan State University in both acidified and low acid areas.
  • Culinary degree in 2015
  • Life Experience: More than 40 years in the field

Origins of Art of Cookery

After spending 41 years living in a very old fashioned family farm environment, Valerie suddenly was living in suburbia. Valerie and John Hanson met, and then married, at the local Book Nook and Java Shop. Together, they created Bygone Basics, as it was originally named. It was born in suburban Whitehall, Michigan. The Hansons love taking cooking vacations while they travel to get a true feel for the “flavor” of an area. It began when they engaged a Mexican woman in Cozumel, MX to demonstrate her own generational culinary knowledge. Of that, and the existing passion for their own mid-west US heritage, Bygone Basics was created in early 2009.

Valerie, with degrees in culinary, business, computers, food processing, and accounting, has successfully run businesses as the executive.  And, John, with a technical position at a local company, and many years of re-modeling experience.  As a result, they knew they could create this very unique niche company that began as a way to teach local families the value of traditional cost saving and health beneficial home arts (canning, baking, gardening, and integrating small farm animals into a life-style) and has become a tourist destination for culinary tourism. Guests arrive from all over the U.S.A (and 22 other countries…and counting) for an immersion experience in heritage mid-Western culinary and lifestyle traditions.

Bigger and Better

As a result of high quality and interesting subjects, the experiential business soon outgrew the suburban Whitehall residence and the Hansons searched for a suitable home for their culinary arts business that embraced historical traditions. A perfect place was found. The Hansons and Bygone Basics moved in late 2010 to Montague where they had a few acres and a big historic home. It needed a lot of work, but they succeeded in transforming the big house, adding a bed and breakfast in the process.

Another ChapterDSCN1276

For seven years the cooking school was in the big kitchen of a bustling Bed & Breakfast.  Because it was time to downsize, in early 2019, the Hansons bought a bungalow style house in downtown Whitehall.  Its floor plan allowed for an even bigger teaching kitchen.  Possession of the new location occurred in March 2019 and kitchen renovations began.  The cooking school, renamed Art of Cookery began holding classes there in May 2019.  Renaming was part of a rebranding process to better reflect the growing types of classes offered, as they go well beyond the basics.  Various different cuisines are now included, as well as whole meals and murder mystery events.

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